Melbourne, Jun 30 (IANS): An Indian-origin man was sentenced to 17 years in prison by an Australian court for beating his wife to death after falsely accusing her of having an extra-marital affair.
Mohinder Kaur, a mother of four, was beaten "to a pulp" with a wooden stake by her husband, Sukhmander Singh, in the Valley Lake Boulevard area in Niddrie, a Melbourne suburb, May 7, 2009.
Singh, 44, pleaded guilty to the murder.
Singh's daughter Sarabjit Kaur told the court that there was fighting and arguing between her parents, which Justice Terry Forrest said was "instigated and propagated" by Singh.
"The children would stay outside the house crying while you set about beating their mother," he was quoted as saying by the Age.
Singh falsely accused his wife of having an affair and his daughter said if her mother even spoke to another man, there would be physical consequences.
"Over the last few years the fighting and beatings became considerably worse. You would kick your wife, hit her and use objects to inflict pain upon her," he said.
Sarabjit moved to Australia in 2007 to get away from her father but her mother could not leave India because of her younger brother and sister.
The court heard that Singh's behaviour was accompanied by an "extraordinary consumption of alcohol and perhaps opium" which included a bottle of whiskey a day and at least up to two kg of opium poppy husks each month.
Sarabjit sought help in Australia to remove her mother from the violent environment and a 12-month tourist visa was arranged. She arrived in October 2008 and spent some happy and fulfilling months with her daughter, the court heard.
"Some months later after extracting a promise from you that you would not drink, your daughter arranged for you to come to Australia," Forrest said.
"You arrived in March 2009. You had stopped drinking and whilst living with your wife and daughter your conduct towards your family improved significantly."
During his stay, the family arranged for Singh to spend time at the Sikh temple where they endeavoured to treat his alcohol addiction with prayer.
But Forrest said Singh's mood changed the week of his wife's death. He was seen crying and expressing a desire to die and again falsely accused his wife of having affairs.
The following day he went for a walk with his wife after dinner.
"At approximately 5 p.m. you and Mohinder left the house in Newsman Crescent, Niddrie to walk towards the lake a short distance away," Forrest said.
"Your daughter telephoned Mohinder at 6.24 p.m. Mohinder was crying and told Sarabjit that you had taken a wooden stick from the ground. She heard what sounded like a crack and the last words she heard her mother utter were: 'Neena, your father is killing me'."
Forrest described the attack as a "brutal conclusion" to his wife's life. "You beat her with a large heavy stake until she was dead."
A forensic expert described multiple skull fractures and estimated a minimum of three or four blows to the scalp-forehead region with further blows to the mid-facial and neck area. "In short, you beat your wife, the mother of your children, to a pulp."
"This murder was the culmination of a long history of brutality towards your wife," he said.
In sentencing, he took into account the fact that Singh spoke no English and would become the only Punjabi-speaking prisoner in the Victorian prison system.
"I accept the next phase of your life will be considerably more difficult for you than other prisoners and I have moderated the sentence that I will impose to reflect this."
Singh sat quietly with his hands clasped as he listed to an interpreter translate Forrest's sentencing remarks before he was taken away by court security.